Gay Times January 13 - Issue 414
"I have a shaved head, a beard and some people say I look a bit like a thug”
More from Gay Times January 13 - Issue 414
That was the one of the first things Robin Windsor said to me when I met him during his Strictly Come Dancing debut in 2010. At the time he was one of three new professionals joining the show along with Russian hunk Artem Chigvintsev and American boy-next-door Jared Murillo. Three series later he’s one of the most popular male professionals on the show and a big hit with the gays. Cleary the ‘thug’ look is working for him.
“When I joined Strictly I think I was brought in not just because of my dancing credibility but also my look. I’m a bigger built boy. I have a bit of a rugged look. My personality doesn’t match that whatsoever.”
Once you speak to him you realise his personality is a direct contradiction to his looks. There’s an air of mischief with Robin – he always speaks with an excitable grin on his face and a cheeky glint in his eye. Born in Ipswich, Robin has a rather muddled accent that has been shaped by the travelling he’s done throughout his career as a dancer, at times sounding Australian, at others showing flashes of his hometown.
The weekend before our chat, I went to Strictly to see him in action during the Halloween themed live show. Dressed in tight mustard pants, a snug checked shirt, red braces and geek-chic glasses, it’s easy to see the attraction. Watching him dance is a mesmerising experience. He’s much lighter and quicker on his feet than you’d expect.
During his three years on the show Robin’s been partnered with some rather fabulous women. “I’ve been one of the luckiest men in the country. It’s a gay man’s dream to have three camp, wonderful, lovely, amazing women to dance with. I could have got people who don’t necessarily match my personality but I’ve been very lucky to have three partners that just fit me to a tee.”
In his debut year Robin danced with actress Patsy Kensit and last year he was partnered with EastEnders icon Anita Dobson. For the current series he’s dancing with former Emmerdale actress Lisa Riley. “I have to admit that when I first got partnered with Lisa I was a little bit frightened. I didn’t know that I would be able to get her to dance the way that she can. Everyone was expecting her to be a joke like the next Ann Widdecombe or John Sergeant.”
The news of the pairing instantly sparked comment that Robin wouldn’t stand a chance in the competition with Strictly judge Craig Revel-Horwood cattily scathing “Good luck” during the launch show of this year’s ratings-smashing series. It’s the naysayers (Craig included) that now have egg on their face as Lisa’s proven to be capable and the people’s champion.
“Once we got into rehearsal and we did our cha cha during week one it brought the house down...”
Watching Robin with Lisa in training it’s clear the two have formed a close bond. Between learning the steps there’s plenty of laughter and banter between them. There’s also a deep affection and they laugh to calm their nerves before the live show. One of Robin’s challenges this series has been to channel Lisa’s abundance of energy in the right way...
“I think there is a gay man inside of Lisa just screaming to get out,” he laughs. “She’s camp, she’s fun, she loves her musical theatre. We’re both very similar and we just feed and bounce off each other all day at rehearsal.”
To read the full article, pick up the latest copy of GT out in all good retailers, online and downloadable on your iPhone or iPad.
Interview by Pip Ellwood
Photographed for GT by Dylan Rosser
Assisted by Joseph McCormick
Grooming by Evan Huang using Shu Uemura and Make Up Store